If you didn't sail at the weekend you missed some great sailing.
On Saturday the Sail for Gold event saw a good turnout including several sail numbers we haven't seen a lot, as well as some of our newest members or Tues Trysailors making laps in club boats. Great to see you on the water - I think everyone had a good time despite the light 9and fading) wind. Early starters were clearly benefitted with Paul putting in the fastest lap on handicap (and second fastest elapsed) early in the session. Mervyn, Dave Clark and Dave Lawton sailed early ending 4th, 5th and 6th. I tried a lap in Jim's canoe but the wind died completely and I had one of the slowest laps (handicap or elapsed). Just like a Grand Prix timing your qualifying laps was important. Sadly we didn't get any team racing as the wind died completely.
Then Sunday we had a beautiful breeze, enough to make the boats move really well but without the fierce gusts of recent weeks to allow the best turnout we've had for a while. However you had to keep your wits about you as there were some very large shifts – the beat from 2 to 6 became a fetch on the last leg. At the front Gareth and Paul had a really close battle with Gareth ending up ahead but never getting clear away. It won't be long before Paul gets a victory, the basic speed is now almost identical - previously Gareth was quicker upwind and Paul quicker on the reaches. Now Paul has added a touch more rake and his windward speed has improved but he doesn't seem to have an edge downwind - very fine tuning now to get the best compromise. Behind Gareth and Paul who got away from the fleet early on the race Quentin was working his way through to third ahead of Peter Cottrell. Of course if Peter was there Mervyn couldn't be far away - though this week Peter had pulled out a reasonable gap. Not that far behind Mervyn was Dave Clark - on Saturday his lap was also quite close to Mervyn's - is he about to join the regular Peter/Mervyn battle? Behind Dave C were Dave Lawton and Peter Halliday.
I was reading Clive Epletts book again the other day and seeing the favourite quotes at the back. When I first read "Cross 'em if you can. Don't let 'em cross you" I thought that's a bit simplistic but the more I think about it the more it sums up how to go to windward in a fleet. It's a simple formula that really works. It implies that if you get a shift that lets you cross the fleet you should - that's tacking on a header. If you are lifted (and the boats behind are lifted so you would not make it across them don't tack. If you find someone is on a lift and will cross you, tack before them to get into the same lift (by implication wait for the next shift to get back on them). It's now become a quote I'm saying to myself a lot on windward legs. It also encompasses consolidating a gain - for example you started even but to leeward. You get a small header - now you can cross your rival - do it - consolidate the gain you've made and get back between them and the mark.
With the Olympic cycle races disrupting next weekend the best chance for a sail is Wed evening (this week). Weather forecast looks hot and sunny and the winds light - perfect Solo weather.